Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A little kink is okay!

Via the always cutting Mistress Matisse, the latest weird mainstream look at my sex life:

I love that picture, because you know, that's exactly what I look like. Seriously. It's uncanny. Of course, like all people who dare to have a sexuality, I'm a 5'10" 110-pound blonde with D-cups and legs upta here, but they also nailed the way I dress. When I'm feeling sexy, I always put on $300 worth of awkward Catwoman costume. It gets me wet.

(Yeah, yeah, if the article was about gardening they'd give a hot underdressed model a trowel, I know it's not supposed to be strictly representational. But it bothers me that they can only depict alternative sexuality through the lens of mainstream sexuality, you know? By using a model so conventionally sexy, they dodge the question of why the kink itself is sexy. Everyone already knows why a slinky blonde in vinyl with a whip is hot; it's a lot more provocative to explore why a short pudgy dude in cotton underwear with a whip is hot. Although I guess that might sell fewer issues. Feh.)

Anyway, the article is supposedly about how having various "taboo" feelings is normal, but it ends up being an eerie retread of Cosmo's "it's okay to be kinky, as long as you aren't really kinky!" bullshit.

Unusual sexual practices are mostly harmless as long as they are part of a range of sexual responses. If you like dirty talk or get aroused by women's underwear, that's nothing to worry about unless it's the only thing that turns you on.

Why? If I'm not in significant distress or impairment--if I like women's underwear and I have a girlfriend who likes to have me play with her underwear and we live happily ever after--why is it so damn crucial that my kink be part-time? The message seems to be "it's okay to act kinky as long as you are vanilla."

Well. One of the things I've learned this year is that, sadly, I can't maintain a monogamous vanilla relationship. The happy flipside is I've also learned that I really can get spanked every time, and by a damn decent guy at that. Harm? The only harm happened because I got into a vanilla relationship in the first place--because I thought I could make my kink part-time.

For instance: A guy who can get off only when he's wearing diapers, or a woman who insists on dominating her partner. The person "is now substituting a behavior for a partner, and the behavior has become necessary for sexual satisfaction," sex educator and author Yvonne Fulbright explains.

Gosh, Yvonne, you could say that about all sex. If I can only get off when my partner penetrates my vagina, does that mean that penetration means more to me than he does? Is it somehow pathological that I'm "dependent" on penetration? Does it make my partner nothing to me but a faceless penetration machine?

It seems like a common media habit to equate kink with sex and vanilla with love. Hell, even in Secretary, which is about as sweetly kink-positive as a mainstream movie can get, you only know they're really in love when they lie down and cuddle vanilla-style. And, well, I certainly enjoy the cuddles, but there's nothing unemotional about a good beating. Mixing vanilla sex in a kinky relationship should be variety, not reassurance.

A little bit of kink is a good thing if it spurs open-mindedness and a spirit of adventure. But when an object or a ritual becomes more important than the living, breathing partner, it gets in the way of a relationship and of sexual fulfillment.

So again, it's about being a dabbler, about being a fundamentally "normal" person who merely experiments before getting back to correct sexuality. Kink as Ethiopian cuisine. Except that God help you if you're actually an Ethiopian chef, because jeez, that stuff's a great adventure and all, but you're not supposed to use it for food.


  1. But when an object or a ritual becomes more important than the living, breathing partner, it gets in the way of a relationship and of sexual fulfillment.

    See, this is true in one sense, and one sense only--and that's if you're a kinky person who tries to get a vanilla person to play your way. Someone who's essentially vanilla but open-minded might be willing to do a kinky scene now and again, but they're not going to want all their sex that way--and vice-versa. Whereas if you get two people with complementary kinks, they can quite happily have kinky sex for the rest of their lives with no issue.

    I think a healthy sexual relationship is more about not deceiving your partner than anything else, but what do I know?

  2. Holly, I love you!!

    Though, for me, the moment in secretary when I knew she really loved him, and it wasn't just lust, was when she ran over to his office in the wedding dress. She sat in his chair and refused to get up, because he'd told he to stay. When she fought off her finance, when she peed in the chair. That was it. She meant it, and he knew it. For me, that was the moment.

  3. That cover is ridiculous. You'd think "Psychology Today" would be a little classier. They aren't Maxim, for chrissakes.

    I am going to buy this magazine, though. I'm curious about what else they have to say about kink. Do they go into the origins of fetishes?

    Not that I will believe what they say, necessarily, but I am curious.

  4. Aebhel - Yep. But I don't really see anything in the article about partners' needs--it's sort of assumed that being too kinky is a harm all in itself. Take the example of the men who needed porn to have sex--the sex therapist doesn't mention "and this was bothering their partners," she just assumes that they need to quit simply because it's not a typical need.

    Maja - True, and the moment I realized he loved her was when he came in with the Big Gulp cup. But they do get cuddlypants afterwards (I suppose she's not in much shape for a beating, but still) and it's sort of implied that after the spanking was the sexy part, this is the romantic part, and feh to that.

    Anon - You don't need to buy it, the article is online. It's mostly about nonsexual taboos (the kinky part is on page 4), and doesn't say much more than what I've quoted here.

  5. I just want to know where you shop that you can find that kind of leather n' latex outfit for just $300.

  6. Holy fuck... that survey says only 35% of adults have tried anal. And only 20% have experimented with some sort of bondage or blindfold? Please. They must have used either a seriously screwy polling method or a giant pool of liars as subjects.

  7. Stingray - Where I shop? I shop at Ross and Target and Wal-Mart. So I don't have any idea of what that shit costs, but I know it's 'spensive.

    Michele - I don't know about bondage, but a 35% anal rate is a clear indication of PANTS ON FIRE.

  8. Funny, my response was that the 20% bondage rate meant fibbing -- 35% for anal doesn't sound so implausible. That may amount to pointing out our biases and limited experience, though. I've yet to actually engage in butt play (v. attempt it), but have done a little light bondage (what might be better called "restraint"). Holly does everything*, but especially does bondage (properly called bondage).

    *There are a handful of things Holly doesn't do.**


  9. Bruno - I'm pretty sure both numbers are filthy filthy lies.

    And I don't do everything. I don't even come close. Believe me.

    (If I were really cutting sex-geek hairs, I'd even tell you that my "specialty" is SM, and I don't get put in bondage nearly as often as I get beat.)

  10. It really should be called Pop Psychology Today.